As I was exploring Angkor Wat, I exited through the eastern gate where there is hardly any traffic because this is the rear end of the temple complex and contains nothing but an entrance that was used by the servants of the king. I went there because I mistakenly went to Angkor Wat in the morning so the face of the temple was shaded and not very photogenic. Rear end, even though it’s the backside, looks just like the front but because nobody ever goes there, I had no people getting in the view so I could take pictures freely. And since the sun was illuminating this side of the structure, the pictures looked nice. Little did I know at the time that I was about to discover a well hidden Angkor Wat Secret Spot.
I was really hot so I walked down the dirt road still used by the locals to deliver supplies to the shops selling junk at Angkor Wat and as I got a bit further from the central temple I stumbled across a stand alone library that no guide book ever mentions. Angkor Wat is really busy in the morning hours because that’s where most organized tours start from so in my attempt to run away from excessive human traffic and heat, I found a secret spot that no foreigners get to see. I walked inside the library to enjoy the shelter from the sun and even though it was extremely hot in there, nobody was around so I could just walk it off with nobody minding my business.
Unfortunately, I know very little about this library. I have found no mention of it in any of the guide books I checked out, it is not shown on any floor plan or map of Angkor Wat, it is not mentioned in any on line guides – it is as if it didn’t exist yet it’s there and it’s larger than any of four libraries within the main complex of Angkor Wat. Make no mistake, though. This is not some other temple. This library is within the walls of Angkor Wat. It is part of Angkor Wat as encircled by the moat but it’s at the east end of the complex and hardly any tourists get that far when exploring Angkor Wat.
I asked my Cambodian friends about it yet most had no idea what I was talking about. The few who did, had no idea what exactly it was and why it was there. Since most stand alone structures have their own names, I thought there would be one for this library but none of the Cambodians I spoke with knew it. What a mysterious pile of rocks, this library!
Siem Reap River flows through the town of Siem Reap dividing it from North to South into a West Bank and an East Bank. Most of the things to do in Siem Reap are on the Western side of the river, however East is the backpackers area with budget guesthouses and inexpensive, yet good restaurants. From a standpoint of a backpacker, East side also has laundry services that are priced at $1 per kilo whereas most laundry spots on the West would ask for $2 per kilo or at best $1.50 making it an extremely expensive venture.
Two Dragons Guesthouse where I was staying during my first week in Siem Reap was within the budget area of the East of Siem Reap River even though I would not particularly think of it as budget accommodation.
I was in Siem Reap during rainy season by the Siem Reap River seemed slow flowing giving an impression of almost standing still. Waters of the river are murky and it’s very common to see a floating plastic bottle or any other piece of garbage to float on the surface. Cambodians are not clean. Throwing garbage in the river is a common practise, as is pissing and shitting into it. Many people fish on the banks of Siem Reap River and they all complain that there are fewer and fewer fish. Well duh! What did you expect if you merrily pollute your own river like there is no tomorrow and nobody regulates fishing. Overfishing will not give the fish a chance to populate the waters and those who don-t get caught have hard enough time surviving in the water atrociously polluted by both human waste and chemicals.
There are huge trees lining the Siem Reap River on both sides which is a good thing. Occasional benches allow for heat weary passer-by to take a breather and hide from the sun in the shade of the trees. There are ongoing efforts to decorate the area around the Siem Reap River and make it more eye popping which I highly approve of, however there should also be far stricter efforts to protect the river itself from its biggest enemy – people of Cambodia.
Decorations that already exist along the banks of the Siem Reap River are a solid reminder that nearby Angkor Archaeological Park draws a lot of money to the town by having tourists stay, dine and buy useless junk here. Here’s hoping provincial government will not ignore the signs and will do their best to preserve the environment and save the Siem Reap River before it’s too late.